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3.9.2013

Due to the bilateral agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority: East Jerusalem residents traveling to Jordan via Allenby Bridge are charged higher fees than at other border crossings

In 1994, with the signing of the Oslo Accords and the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, a decision was made that the Israel Airport Authority would take charge of the Israeli side of the Allenby Bridge border crossing. Accordingly, the fee collected from passengers traveling through Allenby Bridge is stipulated in the Airport Authority Regulations (Land Crossing Fees) 5754-1994. Allenby Bridge is the only way for Palestinian residents of the West Bank to travel abroad and it is frequently used by residents of East Jerusalem as well. However, according to Airport Authority Regulations, the fee charged at Allenby Bridge is much higher than that charged at other land crossings, which are used only by Israelis and tourists.

HaMoked contacted the airport authority and the Ministry of Transport to find out why the fees were different. In its letters, HaMoked noted that the high fee makes travel very difficult for residents of East Jerusalem, who have extensive ties to the Jordanian kingdom and therefore frequently use Allenby Bridge.

On July 29, 2013, HaMoked received the response of the Ministry of Transport legal department, saying that the different fee charged at Allenby Bridge, compared to other land border crossings, is a result of a bilateral agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that stipulates, inter alia, that half the money collected at Allenby Bridge will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

Therefore, at the time of writing, the passenger fee at Allenby Bridge is 173 ILS (Palestinian residents of the West Bank pay 152 ILS), whereas the passenger fee at other border crossings is only 100 ILS.

It should be noted that the passenger fee - which is extremely high - is not the only financial burden East Jerusalem residents must bear when traveling to Jordan via Allenby Bridge. The Jordanian authorities allow East Jerusalem residents to travel this way only if they have an "exit card" from the Israeli Ministry of Interior. This document is an individual single-use exit and entry travel document valid for three years. The overall cost of an "exit card", which can be used only once, is 230 ILS!. In contrast, East Jerusalem residents traveling through other border crossings obtain a laissez-passer, containing a multiple-use return visa, valid for five years at the cost of 365 ILS.

On April 7, 2013, HaMoked contacted the minister of interior demanding a reduction in the fees collected for issuance of an "exit card" . HaMoked noted that it was not logical to charge such a high fee for a single-use travel document, printed on simple stock paper and emphasized that this amount was entirely disproportionate to the fee charged for a laissez-passer which allows multiple trips abroad. HaMoked also argued that this constituted a violation of East Jerusalem residents' right to equality, freedom of occupation, freedom of movement and family life.

In response, the Ministry of Interior clarified that, unlike a laissez-passer, an "exit card" allows its holder to take along children who are under the age of 16 with no extra charge. The ministry stated that since this is the case, the cost of the card is reasonable and there is no need to reconsider it.

HaMoked accepts the position that, inasmuch as large families are concerned, traveling to Jordan with an "exit card" may be more cost-effective than travel via other border crossings, but wishes, nevertheless, to draw the ministry's attention to the fact that many East Jerusalem residents travel to Jordan alone, including  students and people traveling on business, and some do so more than once a year. For them, the "exit card" is a financial burden that must be taken into consideration.

mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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